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Officers on board were eager to describe the transit, in which the Lincoln was accompanied by the cruiser USS Cape St. George and destroyer USS Sterett, as a routine maneuver despite the growing speculation that Israel could launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program.

The U.S. and its allies fear Iran’s uranium enrichment program eventually could lead to the production of weapons-grade nuclear material. Iran claims it  seeks reactors only for energy and medical research.

“I wouldn’t characterize … us going through the strait as: ‘Hey, this is a huge show of force; we’re coming through.’ It’s an international strait to transit. We’re going from one body of water to the other,” said Capt. John Alexander, the Lincoln’s commanding officer, as preparations for the trip got under way late Monday.

The Lincoln is expected to provide air support for the NATO mission in Afghanistan starting Thursday. Navy brass in the Gulf say another American carrier is due back through the strait soon, but they gave no firm timetables.